Cilento, one of the least known and most underrated areas of Italy, actually hides secret beaches, cliffs, fishing villages and important archaeological sites.
What to see and do in Cilento?
From the remains of the monumental complexes of Magna Graecia, to the fishing villages passing through the most beautiful beaches and secret coves, here are the things you absolutely must see.
National Park of Cilento and Vallo di Diano
It is the second park in Italy and extends from the Tyrrhenian coast to the foot of the Campania-Lucan Apennines.
From the mountains to the sea, where nature is flanked by mythology with beaches where the fates of Aeneas and Palinuro have separated. The park also includes the remains of the Greek colonies of Elea / Velia, Paestum and the Certosa di Padula.
In Piana del Sele, near the coast, you reach one of the most important monumental complexes of Magna Graecia, where you can find finds and artifacts, especially if you visit the National Archaeological Museum.
Three temples are still well preserved. The Temple of Neptune, the Temple of Athena and the Basilica, the temple dedicated to Hera. The site was discovered in the eighteenth century thanks to the construction of the road that still today divides the site's amphitheater into two.
Taste the mozzarellas at the Vannulo Estate
Before or after the visit to Paestum, you decide, but you cannot enter the TenutaVannulo and eat buffalo mozzarella.
The estate is located in the Sele plain, in CapaccioScalo. A place where they produce, in addition to mozzarella, also ice cream, yogurt and other products made with milk. You can visit the permanent Museum of the rural culture and if you want you can stay in the Estate.
Santa Maria di Castellabate and Punta Tresino
From Santa Maria di Castellabate, you reach the bay of Punta Tresino a marvel of beaches and coves. If you want, you can take a spectacular trekking path that will take you to isolated and remote beaches. The journey takes about an hour.
Punta Licosa beaches
Protected from Mount Licosa and past the pine grove you can access many small rocky beaches that are part of the marine reserve of Castellabate. At the end of the bay you will find the small island with the lighthouse that closes the Gulf of Salerno.
Passing through Ripe Rosse and the small village of AgnoneCilento, head towards Acciaroli. With its old port, the Norman Tower, the beautiful beaches, visit the seaside village where Hemingway is said to have known the sailor who inspired his character of the Old and the Sea.
Continue along the path, among the centuries-old olive trees and the coast and stop at Pisciotta, the country of menaica anchovies, named for the particular technique with which they are fished. You will not be able to taste them. Roscigno, the abandoned village
It is a small village abandoned due to landslides. The historical center began to empty itself already in the first years of the 900 when two orders of the civil engineering forced the residents to move in the current part of the country, RoscignoNuova. In the village now lives only one resident who, after the death of Dorina, the only real last resident, has moved to one of the old houses and spends the days through the deserted streets of the country, waiting for some visitors to tell the story of Roscigno.
Caves of Castel Civita
If you are passionate about caving, reach the cave complex that is part of the National Park of Cilento and Vallo di Diano. The entrance is from a square located at 94 meters above sea level. From here you continue with alleys and galleries until you get to admire stalactites and stalagmites. The first entrance is on a large cave called Bertarelli.
Head towards Marina di Camerota to discover beaches, rocky coves and caves. Go to the discovery of CaladegliInfreschi, with its fresh and sweet water springs that flow from the seabed. It is a hidden cove that can only be reached by boat or on foot along the Mediterranean Path, which moves from the Marina di Camerota port. Sea and beaches of Cilento
Protected by the National Park of Cilento and Vallo di Diano, the Cilento coast is still a wild paradise, sheltered from hordes of tourists. Here you will find bays, coves and secret beaches, but there are also beautiful sandy beaches like that of Marina di Ascea, one of the most beautiful in the region
The Cilento coast is the stretch of the Campania coast with more awarded beaches: there are 10 locations selected in the Blue Guide of Legambiente and 8 Blue Flag FEE locations. The Cilento coast is stretch enclosed between the Gulf of Salerno and that of Policastro. Among the countries that deserve a visit along the coast we suggest Agropoli, CasalVelino, Pollica, Velia, Ispani and Vibonati.
Villages of Cilento
Dominated by defensive fortresses, lying on hill or near the coast, Cilento hides beautiful villages and villages that deserve to be discovered to know the true essence of the place and to taste the real traditional cuisine.
You reach Castelnuovo Cilento the village that dominates the Alento valley and walks through its narrow stone streets on the top of which a medieval castle stands out.
Futani is located along the Sacred path, one of the roads drawn in those areas. The sanctuary at the top of the Madonna del Sacro Monte has been a destination for pilgrimages since the Middle Ages.
Castellabate is a village full of memories and artistic and natural heritage. Narrow streets, alleys, arches, short steps, palaces and intercommunicating houses run between the sea and the hills.
Fellitto is a small medieval fortress, surrounded by towers and walls that you have to reach for the gastronomic goodness, from oil to grapes to the PGI fusillo of which it is produced. From the top of a rocky spur the town dominates Gole del Calore.
Marveling at the Caves of Castelcivita
At the gates of the National Park of Cilento and Vallo di Diano are the Caves of Castelcivita, also known as the Caves of Spartacus, one of the most important speleological sites in Italy. It is a complex of karstic cavities particularly rich in stalactites and stalagmites of the most varied and imaginative forms that extend for several kilometers in the massif of the Alburni Mountains. Developed thanks to the unceasing work of water, which has created fantastic limestone structures over the centuries, the caves offer the visitor an incredible underground landscape composed of tunnels, wide spaces and narrow spaces. The various fossil finds of the paleolithic age found suggest that these incredible caves, probably from the Stone Age to the Iron Age, constituted a safe haven for men from external dangers. The charm of the testimonies related to the habits of life of prehistoric man and the suggestion of extraordinary naturalistic and geomorphological phenomena offer unique and unforgettable emotions.
Exploring WWF Oasis
For nature lovers in Morigerati, a small and ancient village perched on a promontory 268 meters above sea level, there is a wonderful Oasis established in 1985 at the behest of WWF Italy on the basis of a long-term conservation project designed to defend the natural territory as well as biodiversity. The oasis, which extends for about 607 hectares inside the National Park of Cilento and Vallo di Diano, is a 'main' geophyte due to the significant karst phenomenon. Inside you can admire the fascinating resurgences of the river Bussento, which sinks into the oasis for about 4 km giving life to waterfalls and ponds. The karst cave from which the river emerges offers a very impressive sight and is the main attraction of the oasis. There is a natural path that runs from the historic center along a stream with springs, waterfalls, an ancient mule-track paved in stone and partly excavated in the rock up to the cave where we see the resurgence of the river carsicoBussento
Exploring Pertosa’s Caves
Famous all over the world, the Pertosa-Auletta Caves are an extraordinary complex of karstic cavities that develops underground, attracting every year a large number of visitors who choose this place for different aspects ranging from naturalistic interest, speleological to the archaeological one. The Caves, whose origin dates back to about 35 million years ago, extend for about three thousand meters under the imposing mass of the massif of the Alburni Mountains, in a fascinating route full of galleries, huge caves, natural 'salt' breathtaking scenery characterized by the impressive shapes of stalactites and stalagmites. It is also the only speleological site in Europe where it is possible to navigate an underground river, the Negro river, which is born in depth and offers visitors a fascinating and unusual boat trip.
A funny day at River Alento Oasis
For nature lovers you cannot miss a visit to the Alento River Oasis, a magnificent nature reserve located in the heart of the Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park which covers an area of over three thousand hectares and which includes most of the Alento river. The Oasis presents itself as a precious earthly paradise to be safeguarded while preserving the natural habitat of flora and fauna. Inside there is a dam that, blocking the river, originates an artificial lake of about 1.7 sq. Km, along the river bank of which the naturalistic oasis develops. Among the activities that the oasis offers to families, and to nature lovers in general, there are outdoor educational workshops, naturalistic hiking, mountain biking, bird watching, boat trips, horse riding, archery, rowing and sport fishing.
Where to stay
Cilento has many resorts where you can stay for a relaxing vacation by the sea all over its coastal beauties such as Ascea, Agropoli and more. But, if this is not your thing, and you would like to stay a little bit longer to explore all its surroundings and create a wider more exciting itinerary you should definitely consider two options: go for a camping. This option is great if you want to stay for 1-2 weeks to explore Cilento but you want to have all you need to live a flexible amazing experience with no need to always get back to the same place everything. If you travel with your family and you want comfort and cheap price you should rent a house by the beach in Casalvelino or Ascea area where you can find good deals and these places could be great starting point to visit all the other highlights around the coast. Book your apartment or house months ahead your visit to save a lot of money.
When to go
Even if summer is for sure amazing to spend some days at the beach, in late spring until the end of June you can still enjoy the summertime avoiding the huge touristic flow that every year go to Cilento for the summer break season. That would be your best choice to explore and live the seaside in a relaxed and calm way.
Dos and Don’ts while in Cilento
- Experience some trekking
- Try local foods. Pioppi is the place giving birth to the famous iconic Mediterranean diet
- Try some camping experience
- Road tripping the cilento coast
- Going for a day cruise
- Don’t rely on public transportation
- Don’t call a taxi, it could be a fraud as in this area there are no official taxi services
- Don’t trust strangers selling you super cheap deals for tours
- Don’t underestimate windy conditions while on sea, it’s a windy area and possibly dangerous if you go open sea
- Especially during high season, if you have a car with you for a road trip or something similar, be careful and don’t leave things on sight on the backseat. Thieves are very common in this area during high season.